Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl. I was thrilled by the chapter where Danny has to drive a car at night to save his father from a poachers’ trap. I loved his father’s stoicism, his inventiveness, and his libertarian sense of responsible irresponsibility. Now that I have children of my own I love the way that the novel portrays parenthood and the secret lives that adults must sometimes live in order to keep an essential part of themselves alive.
Q2) The book you've read more than any other
The Crow Road by Iain Banks. Despite illness, accidents, death, exploding grandmothers and murderous in laws, I long to be part of the McHoan clan and spend Christmas and Hogmanay in Gallanach.
Q3) A book that you despise
Money by Martin Amis. Perhaps you had to be there (the Eighties, that is).
Q4) A book full of beautiful writing
Light Years by James Salter. The exquisite, luxuriant despair of the American Upper middle classes. “When everyday now secrets end/Oh and then again/Years may go by.”
Q5) The book you've been meaning to read for years, but haven't
White Teeth by Zadie Smith. A writer who I have only recently begun to read. I adored Swing Time and NW.
Q6) The book you're reading currently
Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout. Surely the greatest living American author. She does not let a page go by without crafting language that leaves you breathless, or mining a nugget of devastating insight. This is often achieved on the same page. She is a writer who truly understands people, and understands that it is folly to judge others.
Q7) Your favourite short story
Any Raymond Carver.
Q8) Your all-time favourite novel
I (of course) have to cheat here and give two: The Busconductor Hines by James Kelman and Lanark by Alasdair Gray. Both novels did nothing less than give me the permission that I had been waiting for: go and write in your own language. ●
Kris O’Rourke is an English teacher and writer based in Stirling. Kris grew up in Plains, near Airdrie, and has a degree in Scottish Literature from The University of Glasgow. He writes fiction and songs, and plays guitar for the Coatbridge based band Pale Fire. The band’s eponymous debut won accolades from the Sunday Herald and airplay on BBC 6 Music. Pale Fire will release their second album, Husbands, in the Spring of 2020. Kris is currently working on a novel titled Satellites.